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Viewpoint With Eliot Spitzer

News/Business. (2012) (CC) (Stereo)

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01:00:00

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PG

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San Francisco, CA, USA

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Comcast Cable

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Virtual Ch. 107 (CURNT)

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mpeg2video

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ac3

PIXEL WIDTH
528

PIXEL HEIGHT
480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Libya 19, United States 11, Us 10, U.s. 9, Egypt 8, America 7, Eliot 6, Morsi 4, James Traub 3, Mitt Romney 3, Cairo 3, Washington 3, Morocco 3, Magariaf 2, Obama 2, Vo 2, Jennifer Granholm 2, Gadhafi 2, China 2, Benghazi 2,
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  Current    Viewpoint With Eliot Spitzer    News/Business.   
   (2012)  (CC) (Stereo)  

    September 13, 2012
    8:00 - 8:59pm PDT  

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these are no mitt mittens. from michigan! kathy from bloomfield, michigan. doesn't want to see mitt romney. thank you all for joining us in "the war room." see you tomorrow! >> eliot: good evening i'm eliot spitzer. this is "viewpoint" for the third day in a row protests raged across the middle east in response to aber budget anti-muslim film whose derivation seems to be in dispute. the protest seemed to be spreading into additional nations. today in is sana'a, protestors chanted death to america. the protestors breached the heavily fortified perimeter smashing windows tearing down the american flag and burning it. the protestors were blocked from entering the embassy building and were eventually pushed back into the streets by yemeni security forces.
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in cairo protestors continued to gather en masse outside the burned u.s. embassy and egyptian forces fired teargas in attempts to get them to disperse. similar protests also appeared in iran, iraq, bangladesh, morocco, sudan and tunisia. in libyan, there was a gathering design to show appreciation for the united states. hundreds of libyans amassed outside the consulate, airing signs denouncing yesterday's violent destruction which led to the death of u.s. ambassador christopher stevens and three others. in addition libyan authorities arrested four men suspected of instigating the protests. president obama called both egyptian president morsi and magariaf. the two calls had decidedly different tones. president obama expressed appreciation to libyan president magariaf for the cooperation received from the libyan government and people in responding to the attack. though questions still remain about the role libyan terrorists played in escalating the attacks. with respect to egypt the
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president had made an interesting comment in an interview earlier yesterday with telemundo. >> would you consider the current egyptian regime an ally of the united states? >> obama: i don't think that we would consider them an ally but we don't consider them an enemy. >> eliot: against this backdrop, president obama's phone call with egyptian president morsi was more pointed with obama stressing the importance of egypt main tang security of u.s. diplomatic facilities. fallout continues as mitt romney continued to fend off criticism for his premature and inaccurate attack on the white house over the violence in the middle east. nonetheless, he continued to use the events of the past few days as fodder to attack the president. >> romney: as we watch the world today, it seems we're at the mercy of events instead of shaping events. a strong america is essential to shape events. >> eliot: unlike yesterday the new attack found support among republicans. >> what this is all about is american weakness and the president's inability to lead. there is a belief in the middle east that the united states is
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weak and withdrawing and that's why you're seeing various countries and their leaders reacting. >> eliot: yet today, the president sounded anything but weak. >> i want people around the world to hear me, to all of those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished. it will not dim the light of the values that we proudly present to the rest of the world. no act of violence shakes the resolve of the united states of america. >> eliot: for more on the escalating situation in the middle east, let's bring in foreign policy expert and columnist for foreign policy.com, james traub and former u.s. ambassador to morocco who served as deputy senior advisor for middle east policy to president jimmy carter, mark ginsberg. thank you for joining us tonight. we've tapped into your wisdom individually many times in the past. let's begin sequentially and go through where things are beginning with libya. where this appeared to begin. what do we know about the derivation of these protests and
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what caused it? >> i think right now, the administration has backed off -- initial impression this might be connected with al-qaeda. there are reasons we can go into why that was a plausible conjecture. it appears to have been it was a group, unlike al-qaeda is not a transnational group. it is a libyan extremist islamist, armed group. therefore, very dangerous to libya. and from everything we can tell, they either opportunistically seized on this or caused it to happen. it's quite different from cairo in the sense it's not even clear there was a spontaneous gathering of a crowd there at all. clearly, there was a decision at some point by ansar says is a rogue group. there was a decision to use the incident as a kind of cover to carry out what appears to have been a pre-existing plan to destroy the consulate. i doubt they knew the ambassador
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was there. >> eliot: because there were rocket-propelled grenades used which makes you think people don't show up in the street firing rocket-propelled grenades. >> anti-aircraft weapons as well. >> eliot: this was serious weaponry. >> yes. >> eliot: does this comfort with what you heard a domestic terrorist group as james points out, domestic, not international group which would be plotting elsewhere? >> i have spent a lot of time tracking the role that al-qaeda and the mag ran has been playing this region throughout the last few months there. is elements of the libyan fighting group which is an offshoot of al-qaeda operating in libya. there's all sorts of groups in libya right now. it is hard to tell before we get further intelligence whether or not, remember, this was tying to occur not spontaneous ofiously because of a film. this was 9-11. there is enough intelligence about whether the ambassador was
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in the consulate. why? because his movements were not secret. when ambassador stevens was moving from tripoli to benghazi, he was doing public events. his schedule was known ahead of time. so i have a perhaps a different perspective because in libya right now, there are militias that are both internal and external. the whole eastern part of libya right now is under the control of islamic extremists, east of benghazi. there are towns where the government has not control where extremists have gained a foothold and there's no way of knowing whether they're domestic or foreign. >> eliot: even though there has been a democratic process in libya, there is a government which we obviously recognize and have somewhat cordial relationships with, the actual capacity of the government to control the way we think of government control and territory is limited especially as you say in the eastern part. >> there are consistent attacks that have been undertaken in libya against the government by elements of rem nines of a
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gadhafi regime, islamic extremists. there have been power outages in every town in the country since the revolution has had some degree of fighting and where the militias have refused to give up their arms. it has been an extraordinarily trying time for the government to take control over the country. >> eliot: not to parse this, the government we recognize nobody suggests that government had any role in instigating this. >> absolutely not. >> eliot: these are rogue elements but are not affiliated the government. >> thank god. what happened in libya was that there was an election of a pro western, secular nonislammics, nonbrotherhood government. while there's disagreements between east and west, the east wanted to break away and form their own federal separate sort of transnational state. that's been part of what's been going on here as well. the government in tripoli is pro -- >> if i could add one thing. political development in libya has been a really positive
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thing. the whole of the militias has been a disastrous thick. as the ambassador pointed out there was a powerful separatist movement. if you look at the results of the elections the islamist loss, the separatist loss, there was an overwhelming sentiment in favor of a party and a coalition that was seen as relatively moderate. you would never say secular but far west islamist and formerly islamist parties. >> eliot: let's move a bit east. so much turf to cover. in cairo and ehe script. a different feel there perhaps about what the government said. how it responded, when the protests began outside the u.s. embassy? what is our current belief about morsi's instructions to his own security forces as it relates to these protests? >> i think -- to the really concerning thing to me about that is that morsi is clearly so worried about the is a laffey influence, about the balance of forces inside egypt he felt he could not say what otherwise perhaps he could have said that this was a tremendous breakdown
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of security and worrisome to him domestically. in libya that can be said because those folks the very powerful have been marginalized in terms of public opinion. that's not true in egypt. i think this is a big big problem. not just for egypt but for countries throughout the region. >> eliot: what i'm hearing is the public opinion in egypt is more violently anti-u.s. and therefore morsi didn't feel he could defend that public opinion without putting himself at political risk and hence his comments were both temper and perhaps said to his security forces, don't intervene quite as quickly. >> we don't know. that's a hypothesis. >> eliot: this may sound the way you understand it? >> i couldn't agree more. this is good cop bad cop and morsi is playing good cop bad cop with the united states. secretary clinton under secretary on their way to negotiate debt relief. he goes to tehran. he criticizes the syrian regime in tehran, the ally of bashar al-assad then he comes back.
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this incidence provokes an attack on the u.s. embassy and he's nowhere to be seen or heard from. not only that, he also called for demonstrations tomorrow. what we have to be fearful here is tomorrow, after the prayer day, throughout the muslim world, that's when the real demonstrations are going to take to the streets and the fact that morsi called for these demonstrations to take place tomorrow is unacceptable, inexcusable and should call into question exactly how we're going to treat him. >> eliot: you make a fascinating point. we had a conversation a few weeks ago before morsi went to the meetings of nonaligned nations. everybody said this would be a horrific moment. he said what we would have hoped he would say which would to say that assad must go. in the international diplomatic context, he said what we thought was reasonable, right. at a moral ethical level and for foreign policy of egypt. domestically, he's playing to his local base. refusing to say what he should have said. which raises the point or the
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question that you wrote about in -- really fascinating columns. i won't quote it directly. you said that libya is a test case for the belief that washington can change the way it is viewed by doing what is right. now has it worked in libya but not in egypt? >> well, i think the short answer is it has certainly worked in libya. perhaps no place else at all. the point i try to make in a column is that this has been -- you can go back to the immediate post-9-11 moment. and president bush thought profoundly mistakenly, we now know that democracy promotion would not only be good for the middle east, it would be good for the image of america in the middle east. obama saw that as having been a failure on both the merits and the image thing and said no. i'm going to give you the kind of respect and deference which you haven't had before. >> eliot: how has that worked out? >> they were just words. it doesn't go to the underlying thing. the underlying thing is both policies people don't like but also the internal pathologies of these countries. so autocrats in egypt and
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elsewhere, syria and so forth have been using public anger at the u.s. and the west as a way of distracting from their own failures and so a lot of this doesn't have to do with the u.s. >> eliot: something we do here, we'll have to take a break in a moment. ambassador, do you agree with this dichotomy between egypt and libya and our inability in egypt to sway public opinions? >> i don't agree more. the fact is that in libya you basically have a government and a people who have very grateful to the united states for helping us get rid of gadhafi but in the rest of the arab world we're having been seen as being with the forces of reaction rather than with the forces of democracy. which is why the president is standing to such great depth throughout the arab world. >> eliot: despite the effort to show deference and some emotional combat ict. you guys are going to stick around to discuss more about the there's joy and now there's joy on current tv. >>i feel like i don't even know you. >>just stay on your side of the screen, okay? >>brought to you by geico. 15 minutes could save 15% or
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>> eliot: we're back with foreign policy expert james traub and former ambassador to morocco, marc ginsberg. let's switch to domestic politics for a minute. mitt romney seems to have had a horrific moment, his overly quick, simplistic and wrong reaction to the crisis in libya. can you recover from this and does this make him appear to be not suited to running a foreign policy for the united states? >> let's, for a second, try to figure out what it is that's so bad about what he said. i've been thinking about this because i thought it was horrifying. what really struck me was he spoke as it -- what a president does is just speak words. a president's job is rhetorical and he blamed obama for not saying the truth. which was this was a terrible thing. obama's first job is to protect american lives. and what obama said and rightly so was what needed to be said in
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hopes of calming the situation. that's what a president does. so the reaction to romney that he's not ready to be commander in chief i think is based on the sense that he doesn't seem to have a sense of the wake or the substance of the moment. he spoke as if he had no sense of that. so yes that will stick with him. >> eliot: as well as the factual error that he attacked the president for having made a statement that in fact, was made before the ambassador had been assassinated, killed and therefore, there was as you say, still the hope that sending that tweet out rightly or wrongly could calm the waters. after the death the statement would have sounded different. >> part of it was the heat of the moment thing. but the next morning when he would have had a chance to walk it back, he didn't. he repatrioted the criticism. >> eliot: mitt romney's approach is to double down. usually with other people's money. this time with his own political capital. ambassador? >> i'm far more politically crass about this. this plays into the narrative of what i see going on in his foreign policy operation.
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he has a foreign policy operation that essentially hoped that they would be able to create a narrative that what obama has been is an apologist for america's weakness abroad and when the president kept using drone strikes got bin laden, has gone after -- effectively gone after al-qaeda, he robbed them of their greatest weapon against him and so they've tried to do now is to create the narrative that every time obama's doing something in the muslim world it's to try to apologize for acts of evil being done by the muslim world against the united states. and it is meant intentionally to create that narrative among jewish americans and other constituency groups in the united states that the president is not doing his job effectively in the middle east. they want to cause american -- the american jewish community to abandon the president. and that's what i see going on. >> eliot: i think they want to create an appearance, an illusion of weakness. >> it's not by accident, for example that this latest dust up
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occurred with prime minister netanyahu and the president falling in the wake of all of this happening. there is a real effort here. >> eliot: my take on that is that netanyahu understands he has leverage between now and the election. he will try to maximize where he puts the united states with respect to iran and use that leverage between now and election day because after election day president obama doesn't feel any of the constraints. >> i think the ambassador is totally right. this argument has been made since the war in vietnam. democrats, soft. republicans, hard. democrats, weak. but it doesn't really work anymore. it doesn't work not only because that's not obama. but because america's not divided between hawk and dove anymore. and a large part of the republican voter base actually think we shouldn't be in foreign countries at all. so i'm not persuaded it will be an effective -- >> eliot: i agree. there are two data points that matter. libya which certainly, until yesterday, which is a little bit -- not a footnote. we lost an ambassador. in terms of the arc of history
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we had succeeded in libya. gadhafi is gone as you just said so pointedly an election which brought a government that is as close as one might have hoped to have electorally brought into power and bin laden. those two data points, bin laden is not weak on foreign policy. the argument that mitt romney is trying to make simply doesn't work. i want to switch to syria. both written passionately about this. ambassador, where are you snow how comfort are you -- should we be doing more? >> it is only getting worse. as i've said to you and viewers of this program we're not even fulfill the humanitarian responsibility. we don't have to put boots on the ground. i'm not necessarily in favor of no-fly zones. i'm in favor of angels in the air providing the humanitarian assistance. where in god's name is this country in doing what is necessary to prevent the starvation and murder through injury mayhem and the type of loss of life that we're seeing.
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not among the syrian civilians. as the refugee crisis further expands in turkey and in jordan and in iraq and lebanon it is only going to make matters worse. turkey is desperate for american help. the fact that we somehow or other believe we can avoid what is going on, it is almost as if there is a huge car wreck on the highway and we're sitting on the sidelines and not prepared to go in and at least try to rescue the passengers. >> eliot: i would take it a little bit further. i think all of the terrible things we feared might happen as a result of the war getting worse and therefore we didn't want to intervene those things had happened without the united states regime. now the greatest danger is the war going on and on and on and on, that is going really to produce the sectarian warfare throughout the region people fear. therefore, i would say i actually think limited no-fly zone in the northern area in order to create a kind of base from which the rebels can operate would be a good thing. i don't think that's ever going to happen. therefore, the question that is should the united states begin
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to arm the rebels? i think the answer to that is yes. >> eliot: we have been hiding behind china and russia, the security council the u.n., not giving us the legal cover we wanted. what -- why are we not now doing something more? we know we're not going to get china and russia. people should take the issue off the table. why can't we form a coalition with the arab league, turkey? >> look, if the alliance with the united states and turkey is going to survive this, if we're going to prevent the region from completely -- and by the way interfering with the major issue that we have on hand which is iran's nuclear program there's more that we can be doing. i couldn't agree more. giving them some help at this point in time is essential. >> eliot: james traub foreign policy expert. former u.s. ambassador to-mile-per-hour -- to more okay oco. thank you both for your insight tonight. >> what would romney do with
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now to my point. (vo) jennifer granholm ... >>for every discouraged voter, there are ten angry ones taking action. trickle down does not work. in romney's world, cars get the elevator and the workers get the shaft. that is a whole bunch of bunk. the powerful may steal an election, but they can't steal democracy.
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ade herself even more famous than she was before with her blockbuster speech at the democratic national convention. "the war room" will be coming up. good evening governor. what have you got for us tonight? >> jennifer: thanks, eliot. actually, there are some amazing polls out today. you know, if the election were held tonight the president would be re-elected by a really big margin and we're going to document that. but a reason for that is that mitt romney's campaign is in total panic mode so we're going to unravel what's going on in the romney war room with campaign veteran and then we'll have the latest on the wave of demonstrations as you have been doing in the middle east with analysis from janine zack ria of stanford university. all of that and the mayor of baltimore right here in "the war room." >> eliot: i think the romney campaign is both deaf and dumb on what's going on in the middle east. they are tripping all over themselves. it is almost like the moment when john mccain froze up when
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lehman went bankrupt four years ago. they're showing themselves to be inept. >> jennifer: total panic. i said at the top of the hour. that means at 10:00 because they've moved our time. now to my point. (vo) jennifer granholm ... >>for every discouraged voter, there are ten angry ones taking action. trickle down does not work. in romney's world, cars get the elevator and the workers get the shaft. that is a whole bunch of bunk. the powerful may steal an election, but they can't steal democracy.
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>> eliot: congressman john lewis is one of the great champions of civil rights in our country. we saw a small sample of this last week in his impassioned speech at the democratic national convention. >> we must not be silent.
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we must stand up, speak up and speak out! [ cheers & applause ] we must march to the polls like never, ever before. we must come together and exercise our sacred right and together on november 6th we will re-elect the man who will lead america forward president barack obama! >> eliot: i had the opportunity to speak with the iconic civil rights leader in washington yesterday. >> eliot: it is great to be joined by congressman lewis who not only gave one of the powerhouse speeches at the democratic convention last week but also was iconic for your role in the civil rights movement. so many things you have done over the course of your career. thank you for joining us. >> thank you for having me. >> eliot: it is a joy. i'm watching this campaign season unfold and there's something in me that is --
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revoalings of what i see is the rejection of race by the republican party. through voter suppression to a budget that is anti fet cal to our core values. am i seeing this properly? >> i think you're seeing it very much the way it is. it is frightening. i want to be led to believe that maybe, just maybe we move beyond this. let it represent part of our dark paths. we come too far. we made too much progress for us to be at this state again. >> eliot: you were there at so many of the critical moments in the civil rights movement. you know what it took to get the right to vote. to get a civil rights act, to get a voting rights act. now we see it being dismembered at the state level through concerted republican efforts under the guise of a voter fraud. why has there not been a more articulate objection to this from within the republican party? >> it is sad. it is very, very sad. it is really -- it is crazy that
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the leadership of the republican party is not standing up and saying you must not go down that road. that in another period, another time you had republican leadership in the united states house of representatives in the united states senate who fought for civil rights. who fought for voting rights. who stood with us. who met with us on the day we marched on washington almost 50 years ago. you had people like one of the great leaders of the united states senate and now these leaders are not -- even the nominee who said one word -- not one word about what they're trying to do. >> eliot: it is fascinating because you're right. i remember even in new york, not even in new york, rockefeller republicans who were more liberal probably than democratic party today. >> you could have rockefeller
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you had so many other republicans. some had federal judges that were appointed by eisenhower that were much more progressive. >> eliot: right. and yet now the drive to win a misguided drive to win and i think their math is wrong. their legal thinking is clearly wrong. underlying ideology is wrong. they're willing to pass legislation through the states that will prohibit people from voting even though they acknowledge there's not a single shred of evidence of any fraud in the voting system in terms of people claiming to be who they're not. >> what is so frightening it is not just a regional thing, it is not just the ole south but it is all over america. they want to take us back to another period people stood in -- it is not the literacy test, it is not the poll types it is not people being beaten and trampled but it reminds people of a bygone period. >> eliot: am i being overly
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optimistic when i see i see them doing this. it is revolting, it is heinous. but it will not succeed. and there simply aren't enough votes there so that the next election cycle necessarily they will have to abandon this approach. >> we must not allow this to succeed. i think the good forces and the determination of a people, whether they're black or white or democrats or republican, they must come out and vote. let no one keep them from voting or participating. >> eliot: let's switch gears for a moment. talk about the budget that palm ryan has put forth. it became the basis for the republican platform. it is a budget that takes away from those who need. how do we square this with the core value of american society that we extend a hand to those who need help? >> this budget is immoral. it is immoral. it is not -- it is mean. it is mean-spirited. it is saying to children it is saying to poor, saying to the
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disabled, saying to the elderly -- we're going to balance this budget on your backs and that's not fair. it is not right. and it's not just. >> eliot: and it gives more to those who have benefitted so much from eating out of the trough of federal benefit ef sense. bain capital with the guarantee oil companies beneficiaries of so many tax loopholes yet they refuse to admit the hypocrisy in their own ideology. >> balance the budget or cut the budget but they're cutting it on the most wonderful people in our saturday. history would not be kind to us if we had allowed that to happen. there should be a sense of righteous indignation. people should stand up, speak up and speak out and say this will not happen on my watch. >> eliot: i know nobody who summons that righteous indignation better than you congressman. did you it at the convention. thank you for your years of service here and in so many
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